Should the LA Angels target one of the four star FA shortstops?

Oct 12, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson (7) fields the ball and
Oct 12, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson (7) fields the ball and / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels might have some money to spend this off-season in their effort to make a postseason push in 2023. The Angels might have just one more season to convince Shohei Ohtani to stay long-term, and the way for them to do that is by winning. The way for the Angels to win is by improving this offseason.

The big free agent available is Aaron Judge. He'd check a lot of boxes for Los Angeles but also cost a lot of money.

The Angels were 25th in runs scored in 2022 and could use some help offensively. One spot the Angels can upgrade offensively is shortstop.

The Angels should not sign one of the big four shortstops this offseason.

In 2022, Angels shortstops had a 68 WRC+. That was 29th in the majors. Their 1.1 fWAR was 27th. It doesn't help that a lot of the games were played by Andrew Velazquez, a guy who really shouldn't be on an MLB roster, but guys like David Fletcher and Luis Rengifo combined to play in about a third of their games at shortstop.

Fletcher has really struggled offensively in each of the past two seasons and has even struggled to stay on the field. He also is a better defender at second base than he is at shortstop.

Rengifo is also not a great defensive shortstop and this past season was his only notable one offensively.

Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, and Dansby Swanson are all free agents heading into this offseason. Turner will get the most money of the four, and I don't think the Angels will be bidding for his services. Bogaerts will get a lot of money as well, and I don't think he will be leaving Boston. Turner and Bogaerts would be great additions but I think they'd both cost too much for the Angels to seriously pursue.

Correa and Swanson are the two I think the Angels have a pretty decent shot at, but I personally wouldn't sign either player.

Carlos Correa has an opt-out after this season and has two years at $35.1 million dollars annually. He is likely going to opt out of his deal and search for the big payday he's been waiting for. I don't think the Angels should be committing long-term to the 28-year-old who was not as good as he was in 2021 offensively and especially defensively.

Dansby Swanson had a breakout season in 2022, but I believe he has peaked. The 28-year-old slashed .277/.329/.447 with 25 home runs and 96 RBI. His 116 WRC+ was a career-high, and to go along with his elite defense, he had a 6.3 fWAR which is outstanding.

The reason I think he will decline offensively in 2023 and beyond is because of his batted-ball luck. He had a .348 BAbip which is well above the .300 average. When his batted-ball luck declined in the second half, he had just a .702 OPS, way down from his .833 first-half OPS.

Swanson's walk rate (7.0 BB%) was lower than his career walk rate (8.6 BB%) and his strikeout rate (26.1 K%) was higher than his career strikeout rate (24.2 K%). If this trend continues, along with a reduction in his batted-ball luck, Swanson could be in for some major regression.

Swanson is a Gold-Glove caliber shortstop, but David Fletcher is just fine defensively at short. Swanson has a career WRC+ of 94 which is below average. He's better than Fletcher, but the Angels would be paying him so much money for a little better production.

Los Angeles can use their money to improve the rotation, bullpen, and left field to go along with some much-needed bench depth as well.

Signing a free agent shortstop would be nice, because I do think shortstop is a weak spot on this Angels roster, but I just don't think the personnel makes much sense for Los Angeles.

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